Writing the Truth
When you begin the process of writing a memoir, you begin with your memories, of course. Some of those memories accurately reflect what happened and was experienced. But, many of our memories are just that -our memories- that is, the situation filtered through our own personal biases, prejudices, perceptions, etc. This is a critical lesson I took from writing “The King of Halloween and Miss Firecracker Queen.”
In the first section of the book I write about an experience I had at a pool at about the age of 10. It involved trying to do a flip of the high dive, my inability to master it, the pain, and my father’s relentless push for me to try, try, try again. When I sent that passage to my older sister to read for the first time, she immediately called me up saying, “Lori, I think it was me who could not do a flip.” The more I thought about this, the less certain I was regarding what actually happened. What we both agreed on is that we both experienced a lesson in failure from my father - one neither of us have ever forgotten.
Given that, as a writer I find myself often asking: “What is the Truth?” “Whose truth is this?” “Is this my truth or your truth?” “It there only one truth?” Finding the right place to land with respect to telling a story under such conditions can be tricky and frustrating. It requires triangulation across the space/time of your mind, assimilating the realities of your siblings, friends, and family, and rewriting, rewriting, rewriting with authentic voice and experience. It is an experience that if undertaken honestly, with an open mind, can reveal to you a new history more inline with the broad reality of the past. It can open you up and free you from burdensome memories and the hangups they engender.
This is one of writings truly great gifts.